While a few police officers are partaking in the rape of an 8-year-old child in India, the police force of Uganda is trying to do things a little differently. Trying to balance a heavy clay pot or firewood on their heads and a baby tied to their back, four police officers are literally marching in the shoes of the women of Uganda, as a means of protesting and creating awareness against domestic violence and the rape culture of Uganda. Following them are 50 members of the police force with musical instruments and banners saying “Peace in the home. Peace in the nation. Prevent Gender-Based Violence”.
On the last week of March 2018, the police force took to the streets in Entebbe, where around 20 women were raped and murdered in 2017, as a means to show to the men of Uganda, how much they can and must do to end domestic violence. Francis Ogweng, an assistant superintendent in the Uganda Police Force said: ‘we want to put ourselves in the shoes of women. Is it difficult to carry water? Is it difficult to carry a baby?’ The sweat and short breaths of all the policemen partaking in the march answered his question.
The onlookers were surprised to see senior law enforcers marching to stop violence against women, especially in a country where the same force is used to suppress any form of dissent. But the piling corpses of young women put a greater pressure on the police not just to solve and arrest the criminals, but also to prevent it. Most women are murdered under reasons ranging from domestic row to sexual abuse and even as human sacrifices.
“There are those who still believe that battering of women, the beating of women, is something normal, said Asan Kasingye, the assistant inspector general, “ We must invest our resources, our training, our recruitment … into fighting against gender-based violence.’ Ogweng who describes himself as a feminist had a stronger message to convey to the onlookers when it came to gender roles at home. “Men can also carry water, men can carry babies … it does no harm at all, it doesn’t make a man less of a man,” he said as he tried to keep the baby calm, and the pot of his head steady as he marched along in his khaki uniform.
Report – Rabeeha Abdurehim
Photo and Video – Thomson Reuters